Edward I built the first of his Welsh castles here on the banks of the Dee in 1277. Largely destroyed by the Puritans in the 17th century, the ruins still look out over 3 empty miles across the sands of the Dee to the Wirral Peninsula. The plan of the castle is unique in Britain: square, with three corner towers and a detached keep. Richard II was held here after his capture by Bolingbroke, later Henry IV.
Hawarden is only 6 miles from Chester; its most famous resident was William Ewart Gladstone, four times Prime Minister during Victoria’s reign. He came to Hawarden House after 1839 when he married Welsh heiress, Catherine Glynne, and lived here until his death in 1898. One of the elder statesman’s hobbies was felling trees in the park, which were then carved into chairs – many of which survive. The village contains many memorials to Gladstone, including St Deiniol’s Library and Hall, which contain his library of 32,000 volumes. The parish church also has memorials, including a Burne-Joneswindow. The grounds of the ruined Hawarden Castle are open to the public.
Mold is the administrative centre of Clwyd. After the Norman conquest, Lord Robert de Monte Alto built a castle on a mound, north of the town, however nothing remains of it. The 15th century church contains some remarkable animal frescoes. Mold was the birthplace of the Welsh language writer Daniel Owen. Owen came from a poor family, but became a preacher and studied at the Calvinistic College in Bala, returning to Mold to support his family.